10 Cool DIY Home and Garden Projects You Can Make With a 3D Printer

November 20, 2013 by

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Pushpin birdhouse design spotted on MakerBot’s Thingiverse.

I’ve been seriously wowed lately by many of the inventive 3D printed objects I have found, like concrete planter bricks, a mini planter system with drip irrigation, and a modular vertical garden perfect for an urban balcony.

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Peng birdhouse design spotted on MakerBot’s Thingiverse. Love this!

Designers everywhere are taking advantage of the latest in 3D manufacturing techniques to print functional and decorative designs. And what is more sustainable than waste reducing on-demand production? Curious, I set out to explore the technically advanced but simple to produce home and garden products regular folks were designing and printing–many with home desktop 3D printers.

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On a recent stroll through Thingiverse, MakerBot’s open source 3D printing design community, I uncovered lots of cool 3D printable designs for home and garden. Birdhouses and garden gnomes are very popular, but I also found other functional things like a soil moisture sensor and a self-irrigating planter system for use with recycled yoghurt containers.

My discoveries on Thingiverse and other 3D print design venues reflect how the current accessibility of home 3D printers has democratized manufacturing, enabling you and I to design and produce, then even sell our own products on-demand via online marketplaces like Shapeways,  Cubify, and Sculpteo.

1. Hüs Bird Box in Three Parts
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I love the pared-down geometry of the small Hüs contemporary birdhouse. Printed with just three pieces, digital designers at Saint H in collaboration with rapid prototyping bureau Digits 2 Widgets to hatch this minimalistic design.

If you are in London, you can see Hüs at the Design Museum’s The Future is Here exhibition as well as the London Science Museum’s 3D:Printing the Future exhibition.

1. Birdhouse in Your Sole

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Proof that not all scientists are nerds, designers at UK mechanical design consultancy, Gyrobot printed their a sense of humor in the form of this avian shoe abode. They say that the idea only makes sense if you remember 1990 and “They Might Be Giants” …I don’t, but like it all the same.

2. Modular Urban Style Bird Condo

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Those lucky birds who get to feather their nests in this modular bird condo! Designer Adam Sbeglia did his research before completing plans for this high rise and he offers up his references so the rest of us can learn which birds like to nest in what and where.

3. Frank Gehry Apartment Tower Birdhouse

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For those feathered friends who require the only finest real estate, this Frank Gehry-inspired birdhouse tower replicates for them life by the High Line–the elevated New York City park which offers us humans a superb view of this iconic architect’s actual building.

4. Micro Planter Chess Set

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While you are busy planting fabulous little succulents in your 3D printed chess pieces, I will be be capturing your King. Australian husband and wife 3D print designers at XYZ Workshop based their design on a Bauhaus Style Chess set. En garde-n!

5. Simple Garden Trellis Hook

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Alex English designed this hook for hanging a garden trellis net from a cable, but thinks there are probably other useful applications as well. I bet there are.

6. Watering Spout for 2-Liter Water Bottle

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Making good reuse of those discarded water bottles, Mark Edmundson 3D-printed this watering spout turn any 2 liter bottle that has bottle threads into a watering device for the garden.

7. Decorative Screen For Space Divider and Green Walls

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Spotted on Cubify, a design community and shop for 3D printed products and printers, Freedom of Creation’s easily assembled Macedonia Space Divider above functions as a green wall and outdoor room divider. The system consists of hexagonal modules that can be configured into numerous shapes for decorative screens for both interior or exterior spaces.

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Dutch designer and 3D design and research pioneer, Janne Kyttanen, designed a whole Macedonia collection of products and has “Tree-D” printed some out of wood–yes, that’s right, 3D printing from wood, below.

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7. Garden Gnome

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These bearded garden gnomes were produced by MakerBot to demonstrate features of their Digitizer, the brand’s simple 3D scanning tool that fits on the desktop. The Digitizer–and I love the simple tech gnomenclature–is made to work with MakerBot’s desktop 3D printers, the Replicator 2 and Replicator 2x.

8. Aquaponic Garden Using 10-Gallon Fish Tank

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Theo McCormick’s design enables users to create a an experimental aquaponics growing system from an inexpensive 10 gallon fish tank. Go fish!

9. Self-Irrigation System Turns Yogurt Container Into DIY Planter

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Don’t throw away those empty yoghurt containers when you can 3D print and insert this irrigation cup with wick that upcycles any container into a self irrigating planter.

10. Soil Moisture Sensor

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Let your plants tell you when they need water. To make this low-tech moisture sensor,  3D print two parts then combine it with a few other items and tahdah! This project may be a bit more challenging, but if you’re game, here are the instructions and list of other supplies.

Becoming a maker has never been easier. MakerBot already has retail stores in New York City, Boston, and Greenwich, Connecticut, while MakerBot Academy’s mission is to put a MakerBot desktop 3D printer in every American school. Staples sells 3DSystems’s Cubify 3D printer for the cost of my first laser printer. Not enough? You can also pick up a no-frills Printrbot 3D printer for as low as $399.

What would you make with a 3D printer?

Photos via the individual makers.

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